As church leaders in whatever capacity it's your responsibility to help and encourage your people. We all know that there is a staggeringly high divorce rate in our nation and that couples deal with different issues every day. One of our partner churches forwarded us this email written by one of their church members in the hopes that it could be used to minister to others thinking about divorce.
We here at the 242 Network believe in marriage and want to help equip you as you're in the trenches with your people. We are so thankful for this brave woman's honesty and willingness to share her story.
An open letter to married couples
I’m 38 years old, but I feel older. I have three wonderful and loving mama’s boys. If I’m honest, they are forced to be mama’s boys because I chose to end my marriage to their father when they were seven, three, and two. They are now 15, 11, and 10. Let me just say that children will, for the most part, NEVER get over divorce. They may be “okay”, or “well-adjusted” but they will never forget it. It will mark them. I know this because when I was 17 years old, my parents who were married for 21 years decided to divorce. It marked me and it still effects my life 21 years later.
I’m now through my second divorce. My second marriage, one that never should have never happened in the first place, failed. I loved him deeply, but it wasn’t a healthy relationship. However, I still went through with the marriage, only to end it exactly three years later.
Fast forward to now. My church just wrapped up a sermon series on marriage. I thought about skipping for the entire duration of the series, but I love going to church. I need church and worship time, so I grudgingly went. When I sat through the sermons, I couldn’t help but to keep thinking about how everything they said was true. Things like: respect your husband; fight for your marriage; avoid pitfalls and sin; build each other up; communicate; go on date nights, etc.
I kept thinking that those things are true, and that they were easier said than done. Then I thought that people should know what divorce is truly like. Maybe if people know what they were walking into, then less people would go through with it. So that’s why I decided to write this letter. If JUST ONE person decides to look at their marriage differently, then it was worth it. So here goes:
- Divorce SUCKS. It just does. It pits people who once loved each other against each other. It confuses children and truly angers them. Maybe not at first if they are young, but they will grow up and it will. They will never forget and they won’t just “get over it”. It rocks everyone’s world that is involved. Nothing is EVER the same after.
- Divorce IS avoidable. I do believe that there are some marriages that need to end. If someone is being abused physically or emotionally or addiction takes over, then those are unsafe situations. I do believe that there are legitimate grounds for divorce, but I think for the majority the marriages could have been saved.
- Divorce doesn’t just sneak up on you. Problems start slow. For example you or your spouse become distant and change; your kids drive you nuts; your spouse isn’t doing enough; you stop showing affection; you start hanging with your friends more. It doesn’t happen over night. Stop waiting around to fix your marriage. Care enough to not settle for an okay marriage, because it’ll stop being okay at some point. Be proactive.
- Divorce isn’t what God intended for families. “Blended” families are NOT easy. They are hard. They are so hard because that was not God’s design for marriage. It’s hard to be a step-parent. It’s hard to be an ex-wife. Some people do it well, but I think most do not.
- Divorce will make you lonely. When all your friends that surrounded and rallied around you during your divorce go back to their lives, you will be lonely. When your kids leave to go to the other parent’s house, you will be lonely.
I look at some of my younger friends. Friends with little ones. Friends that are struggling in their marriage. Eight years ago, I would’ve told them to just get out. Start over. I thought that if I was a strong enough woman, I could do it on my own.
That was before I understood what having a God-centered marriage was really about. It is definitely not the advice that I would give today. Today, I would tell them that all marriages struggle. All of them! I have friends who have been married 15 plus years. They have strong marriages that survived so much. It wasn’t easy for them, but they did it! They didn’t give up!
Go to counseling as much as you need it. Fight for each other. Surround yourself with Christian friends and couples. Decide to love and forgive each other no matter what. Even if some days you only make the decision to “like” each other, make the decision.
“The grass isn’t greener on the other side, it is greener where you water it.”